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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Aug 4, 2011 8:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ? Brent & Keith

I saw this post yesterday, didn't have time to comment, but I feel compelled to now.

As a graphic artist, I am very aware of the use of "space" and placement of objects, and how blank space (either black or white) can be used for emphasis and contrast. For me, this is all-important in music as well - some empty spaces or rests actually accentuate what's going on around the melody, bass, and rhythmic sound. My personal knock on Brent is that he tends to fill some of that space all too often, either echoing Jerry's lead or dousing it with tinkley sounds - that deedle-deedle of two notes. Yet, he contributed in a great way just as often.

To your point - yes I'd agree Brent was more integral to the 80's sound - but the other half of that statement is easily refuted. Keith was extraordinarily integral to the sound from 71-77, especially 72-74, opening new vistas into jazzy territory and adding sophistication, imho. (78-79 - not so much.) His playing is not as colorful as Brent's (to these ears that's a good thing). I think Keith's improvisatory musical ideas really spurred Garcia a great deal, and his rhythmic chops filled a nice gap as Weir developed his unique in-between style. For many heads, 71-77 are the best years of the band, and that means Keith.

I'd agree that Brent contributed some terrific backup vocals, in good pitch and vocally controlled, and although I'm not a fan of his voice, he did a fine job filling the high vocal space after Donna left. Not to mention - Brent was in the chair longer than any other keyboard player, contributed songs of his own, and was there during what some regard as their best years from a touring p.o.v.

There's room to enjoy all the keyboard players - but you'll get called on blanket statements. We can agree to disagree.